Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a complex of symptoms resulting from compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, with pain and burning or tingling in the fingers and hand, sometimes up to the elbow.
What is Carpal Tunnel ?
Carpal tunnel is a tunnel through the wrist with carpal bones on the bottom and the carpal ligament on top. The median nerve and the flexor tendons (nine in number) run through this tunnel. The flexor tendons help fingers move.
One of the main causes of CTS is swelling or inflammation of the flexor tendons. The swelling increases the pressure within the carpal tunnel, which affects the median nerve function, thus causing CTS symptoms.
Median nerve: one of the major nerves to the hand that controls sensation to the thumb, index, middle and part of the ring finger.
This condition occurs most often in women between 30 to 60 years.
Conditions frequently associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Rhumatoid Arthritis
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Injury or trauma to the wrist – repetitive movement of the wrists, can cause swelling of the tissues and carpal tunnel syndrome. This injury may be from sports such as racquetball and handball, or from sewing, typing, driving, assembly-line work, painting, and writing, use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate).
- In many cases resting and splinting the wrists for a couple of weeks may be helpful.
- Diuretics: which get rid of some of the fluid that gets accumulated in the wrist.
- Anti inflammatory analgesics
- Injection of Corticosteroids into the wrist.
- If conservative measures are not successful surgical intervention may be needed. More than 50 % need surgical treatment. This is done by cutting the ligament and thus relieving the pressure on the medial nerve.
Complications – with treatment there are no complications. But in untreated cases the median nerve may be damaged resulting to permanent muscle weakness and muscular atrophy.